You love red velvet cake. You love beer. And if you live in Georgia, you’ll be able to love the two together in a new release from Second Self Beer Company called Bleeding Heart.
“There’s no seasonal beer for Valentine’s Day,” laments Second Self owner Jason Santamaria. “Why not? There’s pumpkin beers in the fall, there are Christmas beers, there are spring beers and summer beers—but there’s a lull between the holidays and spring.” So he and his partner, Chris Doyle, came up with Bleeding Heart, an amber ale made with organic Peruvian cocoa nibs and whole Madagascar vanilla beans. “I use the cocoa to darken it and give it a little bit of bitterness—just like you would with red velvet cake—and then I add a little vanilla to balance it out like the icing does.”
Thankfully, the duo stopped short of trying to make the dark red beer taste like dessert. “That would be way too heavy,” Santamaria says. The result is quite dry and meant to pair with everything from cake to steak. “Vanillin, the compound found in vanilla, is also in oak barrels and in charred or roasted things,” he says. “So that little bit of char on the steak really brings out the vanilla in the beer—but not in a sweet way.”
The brewery plans to expand its V-day offerings in the coming years with an entire red velvet series. Next up will be the barrel-aged Old Heart, Bitter Heart (made with extra cocoa) and Wild Heart (a sour version).